DURHAM, N.C.—The 2017 Duke men’s soccer season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion as Fordham outlasted the sixth-seeded Blue Devils in a penalty kick shootout, 8-7, in the NCAA Championship third round this evening at Koskinen Stadium. The game headed to the decisive shootout after finishing 110 minutes knotted at 2-2.
Duke, ranked 14th nationally, finishes the season with a 13-4-3 overall record. The 13 victories are the second most in head coach John Kerr’s tenure, while the finish in the round of 16 matches the best since 2009. Fordham moves to 14-5-3 and advances to the NCAA quarterfinals to play North Carolina.
After playing to a 2-2 draw in 110 minutes, the two teams headed to a dreaded penalty kick shootout. Both teams put on a fantastic display of penalty-kick taking with goalkeepers trading saves, but ultimately it was the Rams outlasting Duke on 10 kicks, 8-7.
“This one is difficult to take,” said Kerr. “We had the game in control for almost 90 minutes and in overtime. Fordham hung around and they fought and caused us some real problems on the counterattack. It’s disappointing for the seniors. I’m very grateful and proud of the whole team, but especially those seniors who have fought so hard to put Duke back in the playoffs. I’m desperately sorry how it ended here, but so much to be proud of.”
The Blue Devils dominated action in the first half, putting on a clinic of passing and ball movement. Duke opened scoring early in the eighth minute as senior Brian White headed home a Max Moser cross from the right flank.
In a textbook buildup by the Blue Devils, sophomore Moser took the ball on the right side and served a perfectly flighted ball to the top of the six-yard box where White headed the ball back the direction it came for the 1-0 lead. It was his career-best 10th goal of the year.
Duke continued to control possession and never allowed Fordham a look at the goal. The Rams didn’t manage a shot in the first half, but the Blue Devils also couldn’t get that crucial second goal as they headed into the locker room up 1-0.
Fordham came out aggressive in the second half, putting the Blue Devils on their heels. The Rams equalized just five minutes into the period as Bart Dziedzic slotted a ball to Jannik Loebe at the 12-yard mark. Loebe did well to turn and take a quick shot past Duke goalkeeper Will Pulisic to tie the game.
The Blue Devils regained the advantage in the 63rd minute on a tally from rookie defender Matthias Frick on a corner kick. White flicked on a Moser corner service and after it bounced in front of the goal, Frick was able to get just enough on it to beat Rashid Nuhu for his second career goal and the 2-1 lead.
Fordham, with 3:22 left in regulation, took advantage of miscommunication in the box and tied the game 2-2. Dziedzic got just enough of a loose ball inside the penalty area and tapped it over a sliding Pulisic.
Neither team was able to score in the 20 minutes of overtime, but it was Duke with the better of the opportunities in the second overtime before heading to penalty kicks to decide the game.
Duke outshot Fordham overall, 17-12. Both teams had seven corner kicks apiece. Pulisic finished with two saves, while Nuhu had three. Pulisic finished his rookie campaign with 13 wins and seven shutouts.